Photo: AnneCN via Flickr

As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. Helping them succeed both inside and outside of the classroom can make a huge difference in their academic and emotional development. With so much time spent traveling from point A to point B throughout the summer, from family vacations to play dates, I always seize the opportunity to turn car time into quality family time.

Here are five great ways to keep your kids learning and wondering in the car, all the while kicking the question that makes every parent cringe (“Are we there yet?”) to the curb.

1. Read on the road—Busy morning car rides or the rush to arrive at Grandma’s house on time might make you feel like you don’t have time to read, but the car can be the perfect place for kids to experience books and learn. There are great ways to connect your family with great books—like Honda’s Road Readers app that provides Honda drivers free access to children’s audiobooks to expose children to great literature and foster their imaginations—throughout the whole car ride.

2. Explore what your children love—The car’s the perfect place for a child’s imagination to run wild. If your children love construction trucks or railroad cars, point them out on the road and ask them what they imagine the truck is hauling or where is the train headed? Let these questions turn into a story you make up together.

3. Windows to the world—Sometimes the best vistas are those we see through the windows of our cars. Between rolling green hills, twisty mountain roads, or vibrant urban streetscapes, the world beyond the car is a feast for a child’s eyes and mind. Use maps, natural landscapes, and physical landmarks spotted on the trip to teach children about history, geography, city planning, and so much more.

4. Make your own family fun—On the way to a family gathering, share touching or humorous stories about the relatives and friends your children are about to spend time with. Ask your kids trivia questions about family members. This is a great way to share family history. When kids are little, ask simple questions and make them progressively challenging, depending on their age.

5. Encourage daydreaming—A successful car ride starts even before you turn on the engine. Keep “dreambooks” for your kids in the backseat, each getting their own blank notebook. Let them draw pictures, put in stickers, take notes, tape in tickets or other items from car time to help them save special memories from the trip.